The C5 arrived back from Thailand Sunday afternoon. The freight they carried was tightly wrapped with canvas and quickly off-loaded and spirited away. It took longer to refuel the plane than it did to off-load the freight.
The time of Monday’s flight was going to depend on the post trip inspection. The mechanics worked on the checklist until dark and were going to require several more hours Monday morning.
I was taking Monday and Fridays off from KCC now and should have been taking more. I gave the group of 80 the pep talk and Vicky and I went through the last question and answer session with them. This group would bring four more embassies to full strength.
We were on schedule to be in full compliance by Oct 15. As with all plans, obstacles seem to find a way to interfere.
One of the Iowa planes lost the number three engine on the flight to Luanda Angola; it was the final flight for the crew and the final delivery of the 12 pre – positioned Black Hawks and Suburbans before moving on to another staging area. The plane was at the airport with its crew.
The engine did not fail gently – it was catastrophic, like someone threw a handful of rocks in the gearbox, the crew said. The crew was able to feather the prop so the blades were not creating a massive drag on the air frame. But, the circus was just beginning.
The C130-30H was powered by 4 Allison Rolls Royce T56A15 turbines. After what seemed like hours of running down serial numbers and calls to the Iowa Guard maintenance shop, Robbie determined that we had both an engine and a propeller in the parts that came with our C130’s from the military auction, and that they were new units.
The problem was how get the engine, prop and necessary stands there along with the mechanics. Lorrie and Robbie were center of all the discussions so I patiently waited for the solutions to come forth, even though I had a plan of my own.
Lorrie put it all together quickly after hearing Robbie’s thoughts. “Unload the two Suburbans, load the engine and prop with all the stands and equipment in the C5, and then send the C5 to Luanda.”
“We have 4 chopper mechanics there and the 4 maintenance guys that will arrive with the C5 that are from the fixed wing group with tons of C130 experience. I will have the guys there start removing all the cowling and as much of the other parts as they can while they are waiting, I will tell them rent or buy whatever ladders and equipment they need,” Lorrie said and then continued.
“While the mechanics are changing the engine, the C5 can deliver the choppers to the staging area at Kampala then fly back to Luanda to pick up old engine, tools and men for the trip home. Then the C130 can fly to Entebbe International to deliver the choppers with the other C130,” Lorrie said.
“Sounds like a good plan to me; I will go tell the loadmasters to unload the Suburbans. Robbie can get the parts and tools headed that way,” I replied.
I had wanted Kampala to be the last place we delivered choppers to; I wanted to combine the flight with the resupply of Nimule. Plans just get made to be broken and changed. The resupply of Nimule would be a very expensive stand-alone flight.
The load change and inspection delay put the takeoff to after lunch. I had time to fill a request by Ambassador Dansky. The only thing he had asked for was a case of American whisky for medicinal purposes.
I wondered when he asked, just what the issue was. After some thought it came to me. Alcohol was not something he could ask his foreign affairs department to send him. Nor could he go buy it in a country with a large Muslim population.
Another reason he could not buy it was there are those that would try to leverage the purchase to instigate trouble or blackmail him. All of the embassy parties I had gone to, there were only small amounts of alcohol there and it tasted like it was weak or diluted.
I took one of Lorrie’s clerks and went to the liquor store in the shopping center; when they had cases I set full cases on the counter, when they didn’t I asked for boxes. I chose a mix of hard liquor – Jack Daniels, Crown imperial, Four Roses, Old Granddad, Old Taylor, Lord Calvert, Crown Royal, Jim Beam, Old Crow, Seagram’s Seven and Kentucky Gentleman – they were all some of the best known brands.
It was a mix of corn, wheat and rye whiskys, brandy and gin. It took six carts to get it to the Suburban. The store had a lot of empty boxes the stuff was delivered in with card board dividers to protect it. We boxed it back up and marked it as glass and fragile.
The crews were in the final moments of loading the equipment in the plane and closing the rear ramp. I pulled Adam off to the side and explained that I was sending the boxes to Ambassador Dansky. I wanted Adam to call me when he was an hour out of Entebbe so I could have the Ambassador meet plane and I wanted it delivered personally to him.
I knew that a lot of what I had sent would be given away to the close friends of the Ambassadors as gifts or used as barter and to score points.
It was noon when the C5 left Morton Field. The entire schedule for today’s flight was going to have to be adjusted, from delivery of the choppers to the flights carrying the eighty to their various assignments.
Vicky, Cindy and I – plus several administrators and clerks – were going to have a full day of rescheduling. Not only were the motel rooms going to have to be canceled but embassy assignments were going to have to be changed. The pilots were going to have to save some fuel – they were 250 miles short – or else refuel. The decision would be made in flight.
By four all the rescheduling was done; it had been one heck of a mess. We found enough motel rooms at the Luanda Airport for everyone. It would be almost dark there when the C5 arrived.
It was just one of those deals; just throw in the towel and let them call it a day when they got there. Let everybody rest and be ready to go first thing in the morning. We booked all the security people on flights to get them to their original destination tomorrow. It had been a tough day and I was ready to go home, and I was sure everyone else was.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.